Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.
When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.
Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?
Emily Roberson has been a bookseller in Little Rock, a newspaper reporter in Vicksburg, a marketing manager in Boston, and a writer in Chapel Hill and Dallas. She is an Arkansas native who graduated from Brown University and has a masters in English from the University of Texas at Austin. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and three sons.
An interesting concept of combining reality tv and 'famous for being famous' culture and one of the most popular myths in Greek mythology. Entertaining, although a bit irreverent at times (as you would expect from the premise). I always had mixed feelings about Ariadne, but here the protagonist is very likeable and I really enjoyed looking at her as a rebellious teenager who wants to find her own way in life.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the review copy provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters had so much potential. A retelling of Greek myths and heroes set in the modern world with a reality TV and Hunger Games-esque twist? What a cool concept! There were a lot of interesting ideas and themes that were presented, especially in relation to the culture of reality TV. However, the execution was awful and this was absolutely the worst book I've read in 2020 so far.
I don't even know where to begin. The horrible insta-love? The "I'm not like other girls" trope? The whiny and completely insufferable main character? The boring and bland love interest? The one dimensional, trope-y side characters? The terribly paced story line? The flimsy plot? The unexplored themes like rape culture, toxic families, and the pressures of social media? The fact that the last 50 pages of the book are stupid and nonsensical? I can't believe this was a real book that I read. This seems like a story that would have been published in 2014 and done really well. But the fact that it was so trope-y and poorly written despite being published in 2019--since I believe that YA readers expect much better quality nowadays--makes me wonder what the f*ck everybody involved in this was thinking.
There was not a single thing about this book that I liked. The mix of modern day and ancient mythological characters was done really, really poorly. The retelling of several (?) Greek myths was a vague mess. The fact that the author tried to do all of this while simultaneously doing a reality-show-Hunger-Games-style-competition all in one was an absolute disaster. The author tried to do way too much with just 300ish pages and she simply could not bring it together in a convincing way. Everything about this book came across as immature, inaccurate, and insincere.
This just... sucked. I'm sorry for being so harsh but, really? We're really gonna publish stuff like this in the YA genre and pretend its good? Everything about Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters was a goddamn catastrophe of storytelling. I said what I said.
Yikes, this book is a lot and I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it. I came close to DNF'ing, but it is a pretty quick read so I decided to see it through. I love the concept behind Lifestyles of God's and Monsters, but the execution....had a lot more issues. I am particularly uncomfortable with the handling of certain things given that this is a YA book, and we will dig into that.
This is being pitched as Greek Mythology meets The Kardashians, and in a lot of ways that is quite accurate. It is a retelling of Ariadne and the Minotaur, but set in a modernish version of Greece where Ariadne and the rest of her family are part of a reality TV show. Names and many details from the original are directly imported into this technologically modern setting, which is an interesting choice and one that definitely took some getting used to. I think the problem with that is that while the technology, existence of reality TV, and dialogue is modern, the treatment of women and children (among other things) is decidedly not, and that leads to some really horrifying decisions that I'm really uncomfortable with. I think a better approach might have been to do a looser retelling and/or age up the characters in the book.
Instead, we essentially get extreme forms of child abuse that are not handled with enough gravity. And I'm not even talking about the televised deaths of 14 teenagers every year at the hands of the minotaur. Nope, I'm talking about how Ariadne's parents basically force her and her sisters to get drunk, show on-camera nudity, engage in sexual activity on-camera, including (in the case of her sisters) with men who are much older or abusive. Other side characters there to compete are also shown to get drunk and hook up with people on camera, including one girl who is only 13 years old, but is described as beautiful and desirable by older men. Ariadne is 16 years old and it is implied that this behavior began with her sisters when they were much younger. While none of this is portrayed as positive, it also feels played up for shock value and some parts are really brushed over. I was so uncomfortable with all of this, particularly for a YA book that seems more concerned about Ariadne being forced into things she doesn't want than about the fact that this is exploitation of children in the worst way. There is no criminal justice system, and apparently rights are not a thing that exist. It's horrifying.
Add to that the fact that everyone but Ariadne is basically over-the-top horrible, often to an unbelievable degree, and that she falls into the very tired "not like other girls" trope that makes her out to be in some way better because she isn't into makeup or fashion. I am so over that as a way of handling female characters, especially for teens.
That said, I like the idea of making Greek mythology more relevant, and this certainly drives home the horrific and messed up things involved in some of those stories. Thankfully this book chose not to dabble in the incestuous overtones of the original myth, but it does include the bestiality. (For those unfamiliar, the Minotaur is Ariadne's half-brother, born from her mother having sex with a white bull) *sigh* I don't know guys, I struggled with this one and I think a lot of people will probably want to avoid it just because of the content. I received and advance copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
ARC provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (thank you Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Macmillan!!)
you simply HAVE to give Emily Roberson extra kudos for originality. never in a million years would I have been smart enough to come up with a concept that takes an ancient greek myth, reality TV like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and The Hunger Games and blends them in such a dark and seamless way. I was a HUGE fan of the concept and I’ve been thinking about it for days because this book truly could’ve been amazing. at least it looks amazing on paper!!
however, the execution is sort of brutish. the characters come across as crude and tasteless, with r*pey intentions and crass personalities merely for shock value. I know this was probably done on purpose to make Ariadne stand out as virtuous and angelic in comparison to the world she lives in, but I can barely stop to think about the metaphysical conceptualization I’m supposed to be focused on when literally every single character is unlikeable. there were a TON of scenes that I couldn’t even fully stomach.
so what’s the verdict? I can’t stand the characters but I love the story. I’m generally feeling a little disappointed because this book wasn’t really what I expected it to be at all (not in a good way) but I still feel like it might be one of the most original reads I’ve come across. I don’t know how to quantify my feelings enough to say whether I would recommend it to other people or not, because I genuinely didn’t enjoy myself while reading..... BUT THE STORY!! anyway, thanks again to Farrar, Straus and Giroux & Macmillan for sending me a free copy of Lifestlyes of Gods and Monsters!
I finished this story a week and a half ago, and I’m just now finding the words to describe the absolute delight of a story this was to read. It’s been a long time since I last read a retelling of a Greek myth, and I was blown away by how Emily Roberson was able to create this hybrid world of a Kardashian-esque royal family while still observing the rules of the Gods. There are elements of this story that caused me to think of the pervasive nature of social media, and how some of the most devoted can turn into the biggest hypocrites. I loved the exploration of sibling relationships despite fame and fortune, and the desperate lengths that one will go for the ultimate revenge. I don’t think I can recommend this story enough. If you like retellings in a *mostly* contemporary setting, I don’t think there’s a better story to pick up!
Now, for those of you who are wondering, this story is the tale of Ariadne, whose life has been carefully curated and shared with the world around her. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is loved by the masses, especially social media, tabloids, and their shows are the hottest things ever to hit television. The most popular show? The Labyrinth Contest, where Ariadne leads 14 young contestants into a maze to kill a monster. In the ten seasons the show has run, no one has ever won. Enter Theseus, a mysterious young man who’s desperate for Ariadne’s help him win the contest, and whom she doesn’t expect to fall for quite so hard. It’s possible that he’s just doing it to boost ratings, but their attraction to each other is undeniable. She has the potential to help him survive, but to do that, the monster would have to die. For Ariadne, that might be the only life that’s worth truly saving. How can she forge a destiny and save the people she loves when her every move is monitored?
My goodness, even the summary packs a wallop. Not only that, but starting this book feels like you’re stepping into an episode of reality TV. Ariadne’s voice has this acerbic wit to it that finds amusement and despair at her surroundings. She’s funny and sarcastic, but desperate to remain invisible, despite her family’s claim to fame. The tactful way she analyses her position relative to the world around her is very interesting, and I enjoyed reading about her and her life. Her relationships with people are the most fascinating though, and my favourite interactions are those she has with one of her sisters and the monster. The depths that you find between these conversations unearth bonds unlike any other.
There are other characters that I would love to talk about, but they might be spoilers so I’ll try to be as vague as possible. Ariadne’s best friend was a character that I loved to hate, mainly because of the things that are happening in the story, are pushed forward because of them accidentally on purpose. You’ll see what I mean when you pick up the book *wink, wink*.
Of course there’s romance, and it’s definitely a bit of insta-love, especially when the Greek Gods are involved. Theseus is another great character, full of resolve, determination, and enough confidence for an entire country. Getting past that charm was definitely fun, because the story openly admits to the insta-love aspect, and looks to explore past that and how to make things work anyway. I was definitely under the impression Theseus was very superficial at first, which just shows how influential Ariadne’s outlook in the story is, but she breaks him down bit by bit. Gone is that swaggering confidence, and we’re left with a young man who’s just as frightened as Ariadne is.
At the heart of this story, readers will find themes related to the irrevocable effects of social media on behaviour. It’s explored thoroughly with Ariadne’s mother and sisters, and then with her father. I found it fascinating to see how characters coped with fame or didn’t. Readers will also find a thorough exploration of trust and boundaries; how relationships are altered, broken, and shattered by those we are closest to. My favourite is the theme of revenge versus forgiveness, and how that can ultimately make monsters of us all.
Honestly, I don’t have much to complain about. I wish I had gotten to know a little more of the world, and perhaps gotten to see some plot points play out in the story. Maybe there will be more stories set in this world of modern/ancient Greece. I know there’s one story that I’d love to be told, and that is of Ariadne’s best friend. Honestly, I felt like the ending of this story could lead into something more, so I’m crossing my fingers in anticipation.
All in all, I’m rating it a 9/10. I loved it quite a bit, and I’ve missed seeing Greek Gods in YA fiction. This was definitely the story I needed after reading some very dark things. It was funny, witty, and yet still left me thinking about things. I encourage you to add this to your shelves as soon as it’s out. I know I definitely will.
It seems like this month I've read books that were worthy of either 4/5 stars or 1/2, this book's rating destiny was the latter.
I'm going to be frank, I like Greek mythology, most of the stories are very fascinating and I'm always open to learn more about them, but because I have very little knowledge of every one of them I had no idea what this one's true story was going to be, and honestly I've never heard of it before in my life.
The concept of the story was overall very interesting. If you love Greek mythology with modern elements in it, then you should definitely try this.
But the reason why I didn't like this was because 90% of the characters were money hungry, blood thirsty and fame seekers. They had no depths. And the ending was the worst part. Why? Because it was an open ending, we got no explanation of the future or what will happen.
Pitched as Greek mythology meets Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters seems to be a book that readers either really love or really hate. While I was admittedly interested enough to keep listening to the audiobook until the story's conclusion, it's not a book that I can recommend to people.
📌 Insufferable, morally righteous "not like other girls" main character and equally insufferable, morally righteous love interest.
📌 One-dimensional characters, bizarre relationships, and casually abusive family dynamic.
📌 Darker themes (such as rape, slut-shaming, drug abuse) that were easily brushed off.
📌 For a story about a reality TV show, the minimal level of drama was disappointing.
That summary sounds like the most exciting thing on Earth. Sadly, it’s been betrayed by horrendous execution. I heard negative reviews of this book but I thought... how bad can it be? At least it’ll be fun, right?
Where do I even start? From the second chapter, you’re already faced with:
-Nonstop slut-shaming -I’m not like other girls to the max (no joke, MC’s dad says she’s not like other girls and that’s why she’s his favorite daughter. I’m.) -Just nonstop internalized misogyny, but without the grace of acknowledging or subverting it -INSTALOVE. WITH A GUY SHE JUST MET. -Hole-ridden worldbuilding
See, it reads like one of those really bad early 2000s YA novels. If I queried this to agents today, I guarantee they’d flat out reject me. Or would they? I mean, this garbage got published, didn’t it...
The power of being a white cishet woman...
I wanted to reach at least 100 pages, but I gave up at 60. I just. MC encounters this boy who she just met and instantly crushes on, and then GETS ANGRY WHEN SHE THINKS HE MADE OUT WITH ANOTHER GIRL. Look. He is not her boyfriend. They aren’t even friends. AND SHE’S MAD. But of course he assures her that ohhhh noooo he didn’t because he wouldn’t blah blah
My god, I am never getting those wasted brain cells back, am I?
See, this novel could have been so good. It could have been so fun and complex. But all the beautiful women are vapid. The plain MC who likes video games is the only one we’re meant to root for, even though she’s wealthy af and descended from royalty. Your father is a king and you participate in yearly slaughter for entertainment. I’m not sorry that I don’t care about your “ugh I hate glamor I just wanna be left alone and wear sweatpants boohoo” struggles, Ariadne.
MC judges her sisters for being Kardashian clones but she doesn’t seem concerned that they’re young girls who are ridiculously oversexualized by the media. There is a mention of regular releases of sex tapes. Um. A leaked sex tape is a HORRIBLE THING and is never the victim’s fault. Who would leak those on purpose? I wish I could say there was commentary here about how such sexualization is so normalized that even MC doesn’t bat an eye, but I wonder if the author was even smart enough to insert that on purpose.
This does not deserve its gorgeous cover. It is not worth the paper it is printed on. Sometimes books are bad, but this was just offensive.
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters is a retelling of the Greek minotaur and Labyrinth... but modern and mixed with the Kardashians. Ariadne's entire family is in the entertainment spotlight, from social media to tabloids but their biggest money maker is the labyrinth contest- a reality tv show where Ariadne leads fourteen teenagers into the maze to try to kill a monster. To win is money and fame but to lose is death. When Theseus arrives to defeat the monster, he asks Adriadne for help. She didn't expect to fall for him and isn't sure if it's all just for the ratings.
Guys, I fucking hated this. I really hated everything in this from the toxic gross characters, instalove, trash plot, useless side characters, annoying MC that ~isn't like the other girls~, unchecked misogyny, bad writing; literally just everything. While the tea is that I don't like Greek myth in the first place, I was willing to ignore my own dislike for some trash fun but no... this was just trash. No fun. I thought the idea was hilarious to turn myth into a reality show in modern times but the execution was terrible?? It was a big ass MESS.
I know Greek myth was already garbage to women and filled with rape culture and misogyny BUT it felt like most of the trash misogyny was from the social media angle so you can't even @ me and be like "Well Greek myth was already-" Nope, can't be excused here.
Ariadne is a disgusting trashcan who views her sisters as sluts and whores because from a young age they were forced to be in the spotlight of reality tv and continue to be forced to have scandals and sex tapes. They started from an age younger than Ariadne and obviously didn't seem to enjoy what they were forced to do. Ariadne does nothing but judge them until the end when they give her a makeover and she's like "huh, maybe they aren't so bad."
Ariadne herself is even told by her nasty father to "show some nipple for the camera" to get views up. Meanwhile Ariadne spends so much of the book talking about how she isn't like the other SLUTTY girls because she's NERDY and likes VIDEO GAMES and WEARING HOODIES. What the fuck man? This came out in 2019 not 2009 but go off with this shit I guess.
The romance was SUPER instalove and again just makes me feel like I got knocked into 2009. There was absolutely no flavor and I still have whiplash from how fast it started to risking it all for each other. And of course there was endless talk about how hot the guy was and how he could be with ANY GIRL EVER!!! but oh my god? He picks plain Ariadne????? Romance.
Mixing Greek myth with a Hunger Games style competition mixed with reality tv and social media fame with everything else going on was such a mess. It wasn't balanced well at all. It felt like too much was trying to be included and packed in and yikes. The plot was... whatever it needed to be at that point in time. The entire competition was just uninteresting and everything was so poorly paced. The ending was an entire disaster too but I didn't expect anything else.
To be fair while the idea was hilarious, I don't see how this could have worked out for anyone because it was just so bizarre (and highkey stupid). It felt like the author picked the idea for this book like this: spin a wheel and land on "Greek myth" then reach in a hat and pull out "Kardashian style reality tv / social media fame" and then blindfold throw a dart at a board and land on "Hunger Games competition" then roll dice and get "kingdoms fighting". The fact that everyone took everything so seriously just made it more awkward and cringe and that's a big No from me.
Many thanks to Farrar, Straus, and Grioux/Macmillan for sending me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review..
The premise of this book is so unique, crazy, and completely amazing. I mean, Greek mythology and reality TV are usually not two things that people associate or think of together, but that’s exactly what this book was, and it was so fun to read about.
It was cool and fun to see the ancient Greek world depicted in a social media, entertainment obsessed world similar to our own. I loved seeing these great kings calling each other up to videochat about the gods’ wills! The ideas definitely don’t go together at first thought, and Roberson did a fantastic job of creating her world.
The world depicted could be really disturbing, almost dystopian. I got serious Hunger Games vibes at points–kids being shown on TV, dressed up to look pretty and trained as warriors, ultimately going to their deaths. Ariadne and some other characters are shown to dislike this world, and to not want the fame that everyone desperately craves, and her interactions with people craving fame and high ratings really showed the disturbing nature of the world. I thought this could be a reflection/commentary on the growing obsession with social media and curating the picture perfect online life that we live in today.
Unfortunately, I would have liked a bit more development and closure with this creepy world. People are shown to be unhappy with the lives they’re locked into, but having to hide it and pretend and do things they don’t want to anyways. This sort of reveals how terrible the world can be, and motivates Ariadne to fight back and try to get out, which was good, but I thought it could have been resolved a little better.
For example, there is a scene where a celebrity who makes sex tapes is shown to be taking pills to forget that everyone is watching, and it’s implied that she might not want it. Another character is repeatedly told to undress, and show at least nipples for the camera. Although Ariadne does want to get out, these scenes felt sort of rape-y and I didn’t think they were fully addressed considering how dark and heavy of themes they are.
I absolutely love retellings and especially Greek mythology, so I was so excited to read this book, and it definitely did not disappoint. I was vaguely familiar with the story of the Minotaur before reading, but didn’t recall all the details, so I read it mostly as its own original story with some references to Greek mythology in it, and after I finished, I reread the original myth, so I could really see all the references, changes, and ways this book sticks to the original, and I think a person could really enjoy this book with or without really knowing the story, and knowing the myth just enhances it!
I really liked Ariadne as a character. She’s shown to be kind and compassionate, caring for the Minotaur and seeing depth in him when nobody else will and everyone just sees a monster. All along she never wanted to be involved in the horrible TV show that leads to the deaths of so many kids as well as hurting the monster. At the beginning she doesn’t like it but leaves it alone, but throughout the book she really grows to see that she has to do something to create the change she wants and take action.
I really enjoyed her interactions with the other characters as well. I loved seeing her and Theasus, and although the romance moved a bit too quickly and was a bit too close to instalove for my liking, I mostly liked it and there were some seriously swoony moments! I loved Icarus as her best friend and even her interactions with her sisters who seemed shallow and vapid at first had hidden depths. And of course my absolute favorite relationship is that of Ariadne and the Minotaur, and my heart was just breaking with them.
Overall, although there were some things I think could have been developed more, this was a really enjoyable read and I definitely recommend it!
My god was this a bore to get through. Not only was the writing godawful (like what the fuck was the editor thinking?), the plot pointless (the "conflict" was resolved in like 2 seconds), the characters flat and 2 dimensional and the romance to be the most insta-lovey, try-hard, cringy thing ever.
Honestly, I expected to love this book. A modern spin on Greek mythologies and characters? Sign me up! Until I realize how tedious the writing is-- written like a skewed twitter thread that's outrageously trying to sound "hip," with a "what the kids are saying these days" kind of vibe. Then, we get bombarded with the most insta lovey romance I've probably ever witnessed in literature. No joke, the two characters meet eye contact across a stadium and our MC already feels so "connected" to this hot guy who looks at her. I thought there would be some drama-- some fight or betrayal to make up for this literature sin-- but nope, all these characters do is make smoochy faces at each other and proclaim their love for one another in their third conversation. Gag.
This book was just bad, bad, bad. No redeeming qualities except for the cool cover-- but that's just false advertising, so let me warn you: don't let this gorgeous cover fool you at this monstrosity that even dared to be published.
I guess I knew what I was getting into. *may contain mild spoilers*
Between the low reviews and biting criticisms this book has received, it was probably going to be pretty bad. But I wanted to give it a chance. The premise is really intriguing (Greek mythology and reality TV!), but unfortunately all aspects of the story were extremely lacking. Riddled with plot holes, indefinite endings, and numerous topics that the author tried to cover (but failed to address in-depth), Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters was just... an ok book.
Even though this book was written in 2019, it is filled to the brim with the annoying tropes we've all come to hate, and they're not done in a particularly interesting or different way. Insta-love, gay best friend, not-like-other-girls, and so much more. Not to mention some of these were so blatant you couldn't even miss it if you tried.
Ariadne the main character is an insult to the mythical Ariadne.
See, I think the author is trying to make Ariadne some sort of feminist icon, but how can she be one if she is constantly pitted against the women in her own family, not to mention any other female she meets? Sure, her family may be messed up, but claiming that she's better than the rest just because she doesn't like makeup and fashion and social media (i.e. feminine pursuits) is downright stupid. Obviously the women in her family are being sexualized (sometimes against their own will), but she has no right to judge them especially since she's not the one living their lives.
Ariadne is a video-game loving, minimalist dresser who apparently has not caught on to what actually happens in her family. She has no personality, and her insta-love with Theseus was honestly annoying to read. Even though she hates the things her family forces her to do, she still complies and doesn't do anything about it for all the hate she has. She's the typical Mary Sue- she's beautiful (though she doesn't know it), has no imperfections, and always has that one special dude who is attracted to her.
The book tackles this in an unimpressive way- she has a sudden realization that her life is a lie, and her thinking is completely changed. The book tries to explore what celebrities' lives are like- all the magazines/companies paying for sleazy photos and sex tapes, taking drugs to numb their feelings in front of the cameras, and everyone manipulating each other for the sake of money.
Theseus has daddy issues. This is portrayed in a sympathetic way, of course, but he (and the other characters) are all blinded by devotion to the gods. Everyone believes "the gods willed this" or "the gods willed that." His character is as flat as a piece of paper- he's the hot hero who wants to beat the Minotaur to save his people and solve his personal issues. Not to mention his attraction to Ariadne has no basis except for the fact that he's seen her on TV.
Icarus was the gay best friend insert. He did not deserve any of his fate. He's written as a callous dude who does his job because it's his job. Though he does help Ariadne, his ending is basically terrible.
The worldbuilding of the book is sloppy. Obviously, this is Crete and Athens in the modern world, filled with technology much like ours. But nothing is fully explained- the gods' roles aren't fully explained, they're completely unexplored and left mysterious, and I was asking myself so many questions as the story progressed.
With all its faults, I did want to know what happened next, though I was not invested in the characters themselves. But as I got to the end, things were not wrapped up nicely, leaving so many questions to be answered. I would ask for a sequel, but no, it would probably be even trashier than this.
**CAUTION, PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK** The ending was a piece of trash. Theseus and Ariadne
Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson is a unique YA retelling of the Greek mythology tale of Ariadne, Theseus, the Minotaur, and the Labyrinth. I've seen quite a few middling reviews for this, but luckily it really worked for me. I loved the author's writing style and how she brought Greek mythology into a modern world that's not all that different from ours. I wasn't sure quite sure what to make of the present day technology and elements like smartphones, social media, paparazzi, and reality shows, but it works in terms of their world and somehow it doesn't seem like that much of a stretch to imagine the classic this way actually. It's fascinating to see how the figures from Greek mythology are adapted to fit into their new world and Ariadne, our lead, is the most valuable player. Plus, she's quite relatable given everything. I hope that in the future Emily Roberson will write more mythology retellings and expand Ariadne's world a little further.
"I rate the competitors. It may seem callous to think about them this way, but they signed up for this. They have families and fans, millions of people to worry about them. The Minotaur has only me."
This took all of the best parts of the Minotaur/Ariadne/Labyrinth myths and plopped them right in modern times (reality TV, cell phones, etc.), while still being set in Greece with Gods and kings and heroes and magic. The juxtaposition of modern sensibilities and fame alongside the responsibilities of running a mythical Kingdom was unique.
There is something very special about getting to know a character and then watching them evolve into something you may not have seen before. I had fun reading this. It was delightful and hopeful and full of heart, which is not something that happens often in Greek mythology!
The very best retellings are wish-fulfillment. Fight me. That's what this was. It took a brave heroine, gave her several things to fight for and the ending was rewarding, especially if you're familiar with Ariadne's story. This is my 3rd Ariadne book this year, so I was invested!!
So I loved this. It's a bizzarre mix of greek mythology, the hunger games and reality tv, and it worked. The story and pretty much all of the characters were messed up in one way or another, but hey, that's greek mythology. I still felt for them & even got emotional and cried at certain points in the story. Couldn't put it down.
This might not be a book for everyone, but it was definitely for me.
3/3.5 stars. This book interested me with the concept because it seemed to combine Greek mythology with a Hunger Games like plot. It definitely had its good moments, but I found it hard to connect to some of the characters and it felt very surface value with little depth sometimes. And on top of that there were parts I felt like I was reading a cheesy wattpad fanfiction.
This was everything! Drama! Romance! Betrayals! Reality TV. What a great idea to take these ancient myths and put them in a modern setting. I'm still not quite sure why Aeges had to sacrifice his own people to Minos's pageantry ??, but I was all in for the ride.
The premise of this book stood out to me for a while - the Kardashian's meets Mythology! But also has a Hunger Games vibe... it was really cool. I regret waiting so long to read this, but I haven't been in a fantasy mood as of late and this just didn't interest me, but this had just the right amount of contemporary vibes to get me interested. That, and I LOVE mythology. This was really interesting and I'm glad I finally got to it!
Oooooh I REALLY liked this one. The blend of classical myths/allusions vs. modern technology and the reality TV premise worked SO well. (For context, I don't really watch reality shows so I think this book can definitely be enjoyed whatever your experience with them.)
Despite the fun premise, there's also a deceptive amount of depth and darkness here, such as in Ariadne as she grows to realize her own part in what is happening and as she is forced to re-evaluate her opinion on her "shallow" sisters (one of my favorite parts) and other members of her family.
Another notable plus: the romance really worked for me! the attraction part is definitely quick, but it didn't bother me like it usually does. I think it helps that Ariadne's background makes it more believable, and also I just really liked this version of Theseus. Ariadne's initial interactions with him sometimes involved her thinking 'why am I so interested in him? this connection doesn't make sense' and every time I was thinking 'SAME! I like him too but I don't really know why!' Which...seems like a weird way to sell the romance, but trust me, it's a compliment, haha. And despite the quick beginnings, the development parts of the romance (including the building of trust) definitely weren't rushed.
This was definitely an unexpectedly emotional book and one that snuck up on me. I have a feeling this one will stay with me for a long time.
Video review to come on my channel, but clearly I loved this.
CW: Child pornography (sort of? it's confusing, but definitely awful), drug use, underage drinking, child abuse/neglect, some gore, coerced or bribed sex (therefore non-consensual), animal sacrifice
This is an astoundingly clever mash-up of Greek mythology, celebrity culture (think 'Keeping Up with The Kardashians'), and the Hunger Games; altogether the story of Ariadne and Theseus is told, where the gods are under the lens 24/7 just like Khloe and Kim, and ratings are always king. The monster is the Minotaur, Ariadne's brother, a tragic character, who is supposed to be killed by whoever solves the maze. Ariadne is caught between helping her new-found love or helping her family, with everything having been written by the gods.
Life's tricky when your dad is King of Crete.
It's kind of nauseating to read about Greek gods and goddesses caught up in the trappings of modern life, of cell phones, celebrity gossip, and social media, BUT its also really fun. Suspend your disbelief for a little while and imagine Ariadne with an iPhone. She is also a strong heroine in this novel who carries the whole storyline, making you root for her the whole way through.
Author Roberson is making Greek myth accessible for a newer generation at the same time questioning the way we value celebrity; she has written something decidedly clever and unique. Her writing is provocative without being too obvious, and it's both funny and intelligent.
Purists may have a hard time with a book like this but it's hard not to get caught up in the idea of it. If you liked the Hunger Games, like Greek myths and can see the funny side of celebrity culture, give this is a go.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I didn't expect much, but it was very great in the end. Mixing Greek mythology with modern days, social media and modern issues was a very interesting and clever choice. It makes the story more appealing and kinda relatable I guess. However, I think the story was a bit rushed: during the first 75% of the book, nothing really happens. It's not boring, but there are no key events for the story. During the last 25% of the book, everything happens and that gave me the impression the story was really rushed. Especially the end. It was as if the author wanted to quickly finish this book. Speaking of the end, it didn't satisfy me at all. In fact, that's why I can't give a five-star review for this book (this, and the rushed end). For me, the end is not an end. It's more like a major cliffhanger for a next volume. But according to what I saw, there won't be a next volume for this book. So what ? We will never really know the end ? We will have to imagine it ? What will happen to all the characters ? It's really frustrating not to know and I wished the end was different.
Look at this cover and read that premise. Sounds amazing, doesn't it? Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters created a great twist on the original Greek Myth by creating a retelling revolving around reality TV. It could have been amazing if the author didn't make the one mistake many YA authors make - include a romance. I wouldn't have minded a fast instalove like this if there was an interesting twist with that romance. In the original, Theseus ends up being a jerk. I think a play on that would have fared better. You don't have to have instalove if you are writing a YA book.
I love Greek Mythology. Percy Jackson ignited that fire so I am always willing and excited to read more Greek Mythology retellings. If the focus of this book shifted towards the family dynamics and had the relationships explored between the main character and all her of her family members this would have been amazing. The reveal at the end is so good so why waste any emotion on a teen romance when it could be on something more long-lasting - family.
A modern retelling (with a few liberties taken) of the original Hunger Games as teens from Athens travel to Crete every year to face the Minotaur in the Maze on Crete to either win everlasting glory or be chewed into kibbles and bits.
Reader's Digest version of the Greek Myth --> Minos assumes the throne of Crete, asks Poseidon to send him a snow white bull as a sign of his favor. He's supposed to sacrifice it but decides to keep it instead, so Poseidon gets even by making Queen Pasiphae fall in love with the bull [wait, it gets kinkier]. She has a wooden cow frame built and crawls inside so she can mate with it. It would have made Minos a laughingstock but he wasn't the kind of guy to take a joke, so if you wanted to keep your head you politely refrained from commenting on the queen getting humped by a sacred bull in full view of everybody [told you ...]
She gets pregnant, but the result is the Minotaur with the head of a bull and an insatiable desire for human flesh, so for public safety he gets locked away in the Maze. Meanwhile, Androgeus, Minos' favorite son gets murdered in Athens so Daddy declares war and kicks Athenian butts. To appease Minos, Athens has to ship off a selection of their finest young men and ladies every year (or 7th or 9th year depending on the version you read) to become Minotaur Munchies.
Then Theseus, the Crown Prince of Athens, spoils all the fun by showing up and sweettalks Minos' daughter Ariadne into falling in love with him and helping him navigate the Maze and kill the Minotaur. He sails home for Athens the conquering hero with Ariadne and the surviving kids, then in true heroic fashion ditches Ariadne on an island along the way. Unfortunately, he forgets to change the color of the sails to let King Aegeus know he survived so his father throws himself off the cliffs into what's now known as the Aegean Sea. But Theseus winds up as King so it isn't a total loss from his perspective.
Anyway, take that story and commingle it with the Hunger Games and you've got an idea of the plot. In some ways it follows the old mythology, such as slitting the throat of a bull and ripping birds open to read their livers, but there are also casinos, skyscrapers, SUV's, a stadium with jumbotron screens, cameras everywhere and the whole building up of the 14 competitors trying their luck every year. They get a massive paycheck, worldwide celebrity status and an energy drink contract if the manage to defeat the minotaur, but its been going on for 10 years now and the score is Minotaur 140 Athens 0.
King Minos is part Henry VIII and part President Snow, a combination of a bloodthirsty tyrant who will never forgive Athens no matter how many of their kids die and a CEO of an entertainment blockbuster who is frustrated with the plummeting ratings because after a decade people have stopped tuning in because the Minotaur appears invincible. You can only watch so many bodies getting ripped to shreds and noshed on like a rapid wolverine before it loses its appeal.
Queen Pasiphae is equally bloodthirsty and the media-savvy one who scripts her every action for the greatest possible internet hits. The actual Labyrinth Contest lasts for 2 weeks each year (1 kid slaughtered per day) with about a week of build-up first. The rest of the year the 2 oldest daughters, Xenodice and Acalle, live out a Kardashian sisters lifestyle to keep millions of followers focusing on their every move.
And then there's 16 year old Ariadne who hates any attempt at being forced into the glamorous limelight of her sisters, slumping around in a hoody and sweats and sneakers while avoiding the cameras like the plague. She'd love to leave all this behind but she can't because she has an essential job. She's the only person that can go into the Maze and tend to her brother's wounds (he sometimes gets dinged up but so far never fatally) without being shredded into bite size chunks.
And she's the only one who can calm him down when he gets upset, which is important since he causes earthquakes when he gets really pissed and starts slamming against the walls. Since he can't speak they developed their own sign language, so she knows he has lucid moments where he hates what he has become but her family refuses to even say his name (Asterion) and call him 'it' or 'the monster.'
So year #11 of the show is getting started and Minos has put Icarus (the guy who later nose-dived into the sea from catastrophic wing failure) in charge and is expecting him to pull the ratings out of the toilet. But the opening ceremonies have to be doctored to hide the fact that an entire section of the stadium is empty and the ratings suck. Icarus needs something to pull viewer interest back and it arrives in the form of Prince Theseus of Athens.
He's crashed uninvited and made Ariadne uncomfortable by hitting on her before she knows who he is. And frankly, she's a bit freaked, because guys like him are supposed to be bait for her sisters or the more predatory female competitors (sex sells so there are cameras in the dorms to record all of the "we're going to die tomorrow so let's screw tonight" moments for the audience). She and Icarus are friends and she trusts him, so she's not happy with him (to say the least) when she finds out about the new plot twist.
Theseus is barging in and insisting on taking the place of one of the other male contestants, but her family rigs the drawing for position so that he winds up #14 so all the other Athenians will have to die before he gets his turn. Even worse, they want her to suck up to him on camera as a romantic interest and pretend she's going to help him succeed and then betray him so they can give King Aegeus the middle finger as his kid gets killed. Unfortunately, her feelings for Theseus are becoming real which leaves her with the ultimate no-win scenario: either her beloved (if horribly misunderstood) little brother or the guy she loves has to die!